Compact Fluorescent Lighting: Do's and Don'ts
- Wednesday, 11 February 2009
If you want to go ahead and jump into using CFL technology to lower your electric bill and be a little kinder to the Earth, then here are a few tips.
1. Whenever possible, opt for CFL lamps that have a plastic shell around the swirly light-up element. The benefit here is that many lamps and lamp shades have clip-on elements originally designed to clip to the round part of a light bulb. The plastic envelope replicates that. The other major benefit: no staring at curly Qs in your glass or transparent lighting fixtures.
2. Stay away from CFL replacement lamps for candelabra-based fixtures. I’m sure the technology will get better, but the energy savings does not justify the flickering and annoyance I have seen first-hand with these little guys.
3. Generally, opt for lamps with a warm temperature. Most of the places we use lamp light are meant for evening lighting. So by and large, you want a color temperature that replicates incandescent lighting as closely as possible.
4. DO NOT attempt to dim off-the-shelf CFL lamps. There are fixtures designed to operate on a dimmer, but the kind of screw-in incandescent replacement lamps I’m talking about here are not dimmable. At best, they’ll just cut off when you turn the dimmer down. At worst, they’ll give you a flicker that would drive any sane person nuts.
5. On the color issue: it’s best to rely on CFL lamps in fixtures that have shades or some kind of decorative exterior. While bare light bulbs of any kind are unsightly, most lampshades give the light a warmer, more gentle effect.
6. Generally, avoid these replacement lamps in areas like closets or stairways. These areas require instant-on brightness, but CFL lamps have a ramp-up time to get to full brightness. If you throw open the coat closet to find your Monopoly game at 2 a.m. on a Friday (and let’s face it—we’ve all done it), you need full brightness right away. Ditto for staircases where you want immediate illumination.
So those are some basic tips on solid ways to use CFL lamps. Got questions? Thoughts? Submit a comment!